February has bowed out now, bar it’s extra day which was of little good this year and would have been more use in last year’s dry February.

It’s been a month of seeing the back wall of the silage pit come closer as the slurry tanks rise, but with the turn of the month there will hopefully be a turn in the weather.

While conditions remain tricky, it’s still important to regularly walk the farm and see for yourself how ground is underfoot.

It may surprise you in some cases how good it can be, and if lighter stock are on hand, it may be a possibility to get these turned out and reduce pressure on silage and slurry storage.

Some farmers with spring calving suckler cows have been allowing cows and calves out by day and in by night on silage.

Not only will this get some grass in to cow’s diets, but it will also help reduce disease pressure in-house, and cut back on straw usage, a scarce commodity this year.

It’s very much a case of cutting the cloth to suit your measure, and where ground is heavy, and there is a high risk of doing damage, stock should be held indoors.

Farmers

Ger McSweeney – Millstreet, Co Cork

Yearling heifers got turned out on 1 February but have been more in than out of late. Progress with grazing has been slow, with heifers being rehoused due to heavy rain or poor ground conditions on a number of occasions.

So far, about 15% of the grazing block has been grazed.

Slurry has been a case of lowering tanks out of necessity as we await dry weather to get them emptied. Any slurry that has been spread so far, I have seen a return from, and I would ideally like to get slurry out on silage ground soon.

Once ground conditions allow, I plan on spreading a half bag/ac (23 units) of protected urea across the farm.

Heaviest grass covers are at 1,900kg DM/ha, but we will get these grazed.

System Suckler to beef

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Soil Type Variable

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 870

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 8

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 9

William Treacy – Dundalk, Co Louth

I spread slurry last Thursday (22 February) and again on Monday, and it was unreal how much ground dried out in between. Tanks are now sitting at 2/3rd full and I will probably hold this for second cut silage.

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All silage ground and some grazing paddocks have been spread so far with the trailing shoe.

Yearling heifers were turned out a week ago on silage ground, and are content at grass. They are given a decent area with a fresh strip of grass each day, and I’m not pushing graze outs too hard with the ground conditions.

Soil sampling was done in January with nearly all ground coming back index 3 and 4 for P and K. I will likely bring up lower paddocks with some slurry as opposed to spreading compound.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 904

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 5

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 4

Mark Maxwell – Ballinagore, Co Westmeath

We have lot of grass on the farm, but the difficulty is in getting cattle out on to it with the ground conditions and weather. Store cattle went to grass on an outfarm on 20 February and have settled well.

Bullocks and heifers have been split and are grazing in two separate groups.

At home, cows with calves have been out since the weekend. Ground is very tender, so I am letting them into paddocks in small groups and not grazing down too tight.

Slurry has been going out on ground when we get the chance, and at this stage I will be holding as much as I can until growing conditions improve. I will be looking towards getting some fertiliser out in the first half of March hopefully, so I’ll likely order this soon.

System Suckler to beef

Soil Type Free draining

Farm cover (kg/DM/ha) 1,050

Growth (kg/DM/ha/day) 8

Demand (kg/DM/ha/day) 10